Introduction: Decorating With Fall Leaves
Fall is a beautiful season and while many autumn leaves find their way into my home, their fragile nature makes it difficult to extend that beauty for more than a week. For years I've wanted to create something permanent that gives the appearance of the colorful, scattered leaves for my Thanksgiving table, and believe I've found the solution!
Let me show you how to create a delicate bowl and a pair of placemats (or a tablerunner) from garland, so that the beauty of the season can be used for future celeberations.
Step 1: Gather Materials
- Autumn garland is found at hobby stores and is often made from a polyester blend fabric. When choosing your garland, find one that has different types of leaf texture. One of the leaf textures should be soft, similar to a dryer sheet, and the other should be stiff, similar to umbrella fabric.
- Also, select a garland that has various leaf sizes, so that they appear as random fallen leaves. If not available, trim the polyester leaf into the desired leaf shape.
- Softer leaves (dryer sheet texture) will be used for the decorative bowl.
- Firmer leaves (umbrella texture) will be used for the placemats/table runner.
- White Glue, diluted slightly with water
- Sponge Applicator/Paint Brush
- Jar with Lid
- Plastic Wrap
- Bowl (to soak leaves)
- Bowl (to act as the base/form)
For the Placemats/Table Runner
- Yellow or Orange Thread
- Needle or Sewing Machine
Step 2: Sort Through Garland
- Separate the leaves from the stem, and remove all traces of plastic by peeling the the vein from the leaf.
- Sort the leaves by into 2 piles...one that feels soft and the other that feels stiff.
- Place the soft leaves into a bowl of water, which helps soften them further.
Step 3: Create the Decorative Bowl
- Cover the outside of a bowl with plastic wrap and flip upside down.
- Working with the outside of the bowl, dab glue onto the outside of the bowl.
- Remove a leaf from the bowl of water, place on the bowl and brush glue on top of the leaf.
- Grab another leaf from the bowl of water, overlapping it onto the plastic wrap/leaf and extend it over the side of the bowl.
- Continue adding leaves and glue to the plastic wrap/leaf, until there is one continuous layer of leaves covering the bowl. Let dry overnight. (It is likely the plastic wrap will still be damp in the morning)
- Add another layer of leaves. Let dry overnight.
- Gently separate decorative bowl from (damp) plastic wrap and allow the inside to dry thoroughly. If the leaves on the outside are not holding together, either add more glue and/or let dry longer.
- Once bowl is completely dry, cover with a sealant.
Step 4: Sew the Placemats/Table Runner
- Working with the stiffer leaves, sort folded leaves from the flatter ones. Using an iron, press the folded leaves so they are no longer curled under.
- Select two or three leaves and tack together at one spot. Continue until you have made several pairs.
- Combine two (or more) of the pairs together, creating a larger section and set aside.
- Once several sections are available, postion them to approximate the size of a placemat (19" x 13"). Connect the sections by pinning/stitching individual leaves so wide gaps are filled in.
- Repeat the process to make a second placemat, or continue tacking leaves together and make a table runner.
Step 5: Fill Your Home With Color
- Place Halloween candy in the decorative dish
- Use one of the placemats as the centerpiece of the childrens table at Thanksgiving
- Arrange the placemats as a table runner on a buffet table to accomodate Thanksgiving desserts/side dishes
- Slip the decorative dish around the bowl that was used to shape it, and place it near soft drinks to act as the party ice bucket
- For an extra long hallway, frame the table runner for seasonal color
- Cheese and crackers make a grand presentation when served on a tray that has been lined with the placemat